Artificial insemination, also known as AI, is a procedure of direct insertion of semen (sperm) into a woman’s uterus. This technique makes pregnancy possible in certain kinds of infertility in both men and women. The technique works by shortening the travelling time of sperms to reach the egg or by bypassing any possible obstructions in the way to meet egg.
Although the pregnancy rates for women undergoing artificial insemination may not be as high as they are for some more advanced techniques, it is still recommended as the initial treatment for infertility due to its few side effects and cost effectiveness.
Types of Artificial Insemination:
The most successful and commonly performed artificial insemination technique is IUI (Intrauterine Insemination) and other types are:
- IUTPI (Intrauterine tuboperitoneal insemination
- ICI (Intracervical insemination)
- ITI (Intratubal insemination)
Type of Infertility Manageable with Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination is beneficial to couples or individuals with following types of issues related to fertility:
- Male with very low sperm count or weak sperm that isn-t strong enough to swim through the cervix and up into the fallopian tubes
- Impotent male or patients with erectile dysfunction
- Women who have endometriosis or abnormalities of any of their reproductive organs.
- Women with “unreceptive cervical mucus” or -cervical factor infertility-
- Rarely, woman may have semen allergy
- Infertility with no certain reason or diagnosis
- Couple who are not able to have intercourse due to a medical condition
- Infertility due to medical treatments like radiotherapy
- Same sex relationships
- Procedure of Artificial Insemination
Artificial insemination is performed when the female partner is ovulating. The doctor uses ovulation kits, ultrasound, or blood tests to confirm ovulation. After confirmation, male partner (or donor) is asked to produce a sample of semen either at home or at clinic. Generally, the doctor will suggest that the male partner abstains from sex for two to five days in advance to ensure a higher sperm count.
These sperms are washed within one hour of ejaculation to enhance the chances of fertilization and remove any allergic chemicals from the semen. The process involves liquefying the sperms at room temperature for 30 minutes, followed by addition of a chemical and finally centrifuging it to collect the best sperm.
The selected sperm is introduced through the vagina and cervix into the uterus with a catheter. The patient is asked to lie down for about 15 to 45 minutes to give better chance to the sperm to meet the egg.
Advantages of Artificial insemination:
- Short procedure
- Relatively painless
- Cost effective
- Few side effects
- Average success rate in couples with no known cause of infertility
Factors affecting the chance of AI success include:
- Older age of the woman
- Poor egg quality
- Poor sperm quality
- Severe endometriosis
- Severe damage to fallopian tubes
- Blockage of fallopian tubes